One-seat Tory majority hangs in the balance

Harlow's civic centre
Harlow's Conservative group has a one-seat majority on the district council [Charlie Ridler/LDRS]

The Conservatives' one-seat majority on an Essex council hangs in the balance as an investigation into a councillor continues.

James Leppard, a Tory councillor on Harlow Council, is being investigated amid allegations that he posted Islamophobic comments on social media.

He was suspended by the party last month but was re-elected in Church Langley South and Potter Street ward on Friday.

Harlow MP Robert Halfon said the party would "see what happens" after the investigation concluded.

All 33 seats were up for grabs during the local elections and the Conservatives took 17, with Labour winning 16.

In the end the final seat was won by just 55 votes.

Robert Halfon
Tory MP for Harlow Robert Halfon confirmed Mr Leppard had been suspended from the local party [BBC]

“Harlow elected a majority of Conservative councillors last night - one of them is currently suspended while an investigation concludes," a Harlow Conservative spokesperson said.

Last month, the anti-racism organisation Hope Not Hate published comments it claimed James Leppard made in 2020.

Hope Not Hate said on social media that Harlow's Tories should "stick to their principles" following the election result.

"They should not allow a man who has publicly shared racist comments back in their party for short-term political gain," the organisation added.

Speaking previously, Harlow Labour leader said it was right that Mr Leppard was suspended.

Mr Leppard has been approached for comment.

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